With gas prices incessantly soaring the past few years, the typical American family has ditched their RV, abandoned cross-country drives to Florida, and, in general, tried to avoid spending any more money on gasoline than absolutely necessary. My family has never conformed to being typical. We take road trips. Not just a day-long drive to crash somewhere for the next week before heading back, I’m talking about energy-draining, mind-exhausting, two week, non-stop affairs. Weeks of living in our purple minivan and sleeping in random hotel suites combined with days split between eight hours of driving and eight of sight-seeing have put my feet on the soil of 42 states (plus Canada) and given me the chance to see more tourist attractions and national monuments than I can count.
Honorable Mention 2009 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Last summer we saw the redwoods by my special request. After weaving through the quaintly adorable down of Crescent City, we twisted left next to an endearingly humble sign stationed on the brink of a dense forest that labeled it the “Redwood National Forest” and began winding our way up the mountain at a steady 15 miles per hour. Subtly, the landscape began to change. The atmosphere turned slightly menacing as dark, mangled trees crept out of the forest and crippled branches twisted overhead. The sunlight vanished and with our windows opened, I could feel the temperature drop. As we climbed higher, I spotted a glittering shaft of sunlight beaming down behind a thin curtain of dying trees.
From the lowest corner of the light sprouted a piece of nature so impressive and profound, I had no doubt of what it was. Its roots were anchored in the dip of the mountain and a trunk larger than a farm silo rose into the sparkling light. It stood straight and confident and it burst through the oppressive canopy created by its weaker neighbors to reach the open sky and take in the sunlight for itself. Seconds later, it was gone – swallowed up by the wicked little trees that were jealous of its magnificence. But then I saw another, and, silent with awe, I watched as the giants stepped out from their hiding spots and proudly stood in the land where they were kings. The smaller trees were knocked aside and the oppressive atmosphere lifted, leaving in its place a sense of glowing, green fantasy. The smell was wooded but fresh and the air was soft and clear. I felt as I though I had just climbed a beanstalk and I was wandering through the land of the giants. No matter how tall we built our skyscrapers they would never be able to compare to nature’s original version.
These impossible children of nature had not been manipulated or manufactured by human hands. They were born from the earth and left to flourish. As technology rapidly advances and the whole world is available at the click of a button, I won’t forget that there are some things on earth that man cannot improve or recreate. The earth is full of unimaginable, unexplainable wonders. There’s a soul in those woods that cannot be contrived by green-tinted fluorescent lighting. Everything mankind has accomplished is extraordinary. It blows the mind to look at how far we’ve come, and our future cannot even begin to be fathomed, but whenever I look up and see the distant cousin and descendant of the mystical redwood that resides outside of my bedroom window in the form of an oak, I accept the fact that nature will always have the better inventions.
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